Headaches are one of the most common health challenges. At one time or another, most people suffer from headaches. When suffering from a headache, most people reach for Asprin, Tylenol or Ibuprofen. While pain killers offer temporary relief, they do not address the cause, and often headaches return.
Ayurveda, the traditional medicine from India, is a holistic, natural approach to health and well-being. Ayurveda, utilizes herbs to offer natural relief while striving to correct internal imbalances. More importantly, Ayurveda looks toward a person’s lifestyle as the primary cause of headaches.
Headaches fall into three major categories: Migraine headaches, cluster headaches and tension headaches. Migraine headaches, known for causing great distress, are throbbing headaches accompanied by sensitivity to lights, sounds and smells. They often occur along with nausea or vomiting. These severe headaches can last a few hours to a few days and affect more than 20 million Americans!
Cluster headaches can can also be quite severe. They last only a few minutes to a few hours but are reoccurring through out the day. These pulsating headaches are often accompanied by tearing or redness of the eye, sweating or the constriction of one pupil.
Tension headaches are the most common headaches. These headaches last from 30 minutes to a week. They tend to be mild to moderate and are constant. They are not usually accompanied by any other symptoms. The cause of migraines and cluster headaches are poorly understood. Tension headaches, however, appear to have many causes including stress, toxins, difficulty sleeping and anxiety.
What all of these headaches have in common is that in one way or another, something is out of balance in the patient. The goal of Ayurveda is to restore balance and optimum function within the patient. This is accomplished through proper diet, herbs, exercise and stress reduction. Stress reduction includes meditation, yoga and the creation of a harmonious lifestyle. It is the creation of a harmonious lifestyle that is the most challenging for patients. Caught in a cycle of crisis management and struggling to survive, many patients are just keeping their head above water. The busier we become, the more our lifestyle suffers and the more difficult it is to take proper care of ourselves. It is no wonder we get sick. If a plant’s needs are ignored, it wilts. If a car’s needs are ignored, it breaks down. If a human’s needs are ignored, we suffer and become ill.
A harmonious life is one that supports the body to function optimally. It is a lifestyle that is relaxed and at ease. This does not mean laziness or a lack of productivity. Just the opposite, a person living a harmonious life can be more productive as they are sick less and their mind and body are clear and able to focus.
Try these four simple practices to bring harmony and balance into your life and see if your headaches are improved:
1. Get up in the morning early enough to sit quietly and either meditate, pray or contemplate in silence. Get up before the kids, and have a cup of tea and do some stretching. A regular practice of stretching, meditation and a quiet cup of tea will go a long way toward peace of mind and harmony.
2. Make sure that you are always eating sitting down in a calm and quiet environment. Create enough time to be present with your food. Avoid eating in the car or at your desk. Take a few breaths and relax before taking that first bite. A calm eating experience improves digestion and quiets the mind.
3. Let go of the toxins in your life. When you suffer from chronic headaches, you may be sensitive to environmental toxins. To purify your body, try giving up cigarettes, marijuana and alcohol and consume organic food to avoid pesticides and hormones.
4. Go to bed early so that you can get up early. Try to go to bed around 10:00. This leaves most people time to get a good night sleep and feel refreshed in the morning. When you’re well rested, your entire day goes better. Going to bed early is luxurious. Enjoy the soft comfort of your bed and snuggle under those warm blankets.
If you suffer from chronic headaches, see a health care professional for a proper diagnosis. If no cause is found, try the above ideas or see a certified Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist for specific herbal and lifestyle recommendations.
by Dr. Marc Halpern, Founder of the California College of Ayurveda